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A group of midshipmen conduct Helicopter Rope Suspension Techniques training at the 53 area rappel tower here, June 28. The midshipmen learned how to tie proper knots and make a seat using rope to rappel off the tower.

Photo by Cpl. John McCall

SOTG teaches rappelling skills to Naval Academy Midshipmen

1 Jul 2011 | Cpl. John McCall

Marines with the Special Operations Training Group instructed a group of midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy on the proper procedures of Helicopter Rope Suspension Techniques training here, June 28.

“Many of these midshipmen had never rappelled before so I think this was a good confidence booster for a lot of them,” said Sgt. Victor Guardiola, 25, a HRST master from Dallas, Texas. “They were able conquer their fear of heights and use the equipment properly.”

Before ascending the tower, midshipmen were given a series of classes and demonstrations on tying knots, creating a seat out of rope and safety procedures.

Once on top of the tower, midshipmen were given three different scenarios to practice their new skill. Participants rappelled down a wall, off of a metal bar and through a tight space in order to simulate rappelling operations from the air or off rooftops.

Even those with rappelling experience were able to learn something new from the class.

“I’ve rappelled before, but training to rappel from a helicopter was something completely new,” said Midshipman Miles McGee, 21, from Mandeville, La. “It was a good experience.”

The instructors must all go through a two-week course known as the HRST master course. Those who attend the course learn how to tie knots, assemble climbing systems, insert and extract via helicopter and rappell from static towers.

Instructors were able to pass on their knowledge to the midshipmen and see them perform proper rappelling.

“I take pride in knowing that at the end of the day I helped someone conquer their fears and taught them a skill they can use in the future,” Guardiola explained.

Course instructors stressed the training was not only a great personal experience but also a team building exercise.

“The biggest thing that they should take away from this training is being able to trust their fellow midshipmen and know that they are there to support them,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Wilton, 36, a platoon sergeant from Houston, Texas. “Being able to coach somebody that has no experience rappelling and see them be successful is a good feeling.”

I Marine Expeditionary Force